Do Restraining Orders Work? Answers from a Family Law Lawyer in Virginia Beach, VA

by | Jan 6, 2016 | Lawyers

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There’s an urban myth that restraining orders don’t prevent future violence. It’s said that it’s only a piece of paper and does nothing to prevent the person named in the restraining order from coming back to cause further injury. They may point to a case where the subject of the restraining order was so enraged that they became more dangerous than they had been previously.

Of course, there is some truth to that, reports a family law lawyer in Virginia Beach, VA. Even the Secret Service admits that a truly determined attacker will find a way, and none of the people who get restraining orders have Secret Service protection. Anyone truly in fear for their life should move to a safe location.

The Research

A report of a study on the effectiveness of restraining orders was published in the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law by Drs. Benitez, McNiel and Binder. The intent of a restraining order is to prevent future harm; if the restraining order is violated, the violator can be penalized with fines or imprisonment. The study looked at the results of a body of previous research with the hope of finding out if restraining orders prevented future violence.

Restraining Orders are Usually Effective

Many of the studies only concerned a small group of people, and the results weren’t conclusive. However, one large, well-done study involved 2,691 women who had reported domestic violence to the police at least once.

They determined that restraining orders are effective in preventing much, but not all, future violence.

  • There was an 80% reduction in reports made to the police of domestic violence;
  • Significantly less physical abuse occurred in the next twelve months;
  • Less contact, threats or abuse were reported when compared to women who had reported domestic violence but did not have a restraining order.
  • Most violations of the restraining order happened during the first three months.
  • Women who had long-term restraining orders experienced 70% less physical abuse and 60% less psychological abuse.
  • Women who had been in a relationship with the abuser for more than five years were less likely to be abused again than women in short-term relationships.

While restraining is generally effective, every case is unique. Discuss your situation with a family law lawyer in Virginia Beach, VA. Contact the W. Ware Morrison Law Group for a free consultation with an attorney with over 40 years of experience.